Zimbabwe National Roads Administration officials manning a tollgate in Hwange are living in fear of a pride of lions that is roaming the area.

The lions, believed to have strayed from Hwange National Park, have prompted Zinara to seek protection from armed police. Zinara has also connected electricity and upgraded infrastructure at the tollgate to ensure the safety of its workers.

But this has not stopped the lions from wandering around the tollgate, prompting closure of the tollgate at around 6pm instead of going a full 24 hours. Villagers and farmers in the area along the Hwange-Victoria Falls Highway said wild animals were a problem, with some recently spotted in Mpumalanga suburb in the coal mining town.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu, who has a farm a kilometre from the tollgate in question, said Government would improve security.

"We discussed the issue with our officials manning the tollgate who have been forced to adjust their working hours fearing the lions," said Dr Mpofu.

"This is the real situation; there is no shade, and the staff work from morning to 1800 hours. They cut short their working hours because of the dangerous lions.

"It is not only about the Zinara officials but even other villagers … They (Zinara staff) are supported by armed police officers but as we all know a lion does not care if one has a gun or not. The armed officer is also a human being."

"We recently upgraded the infrastructure at the tollgate so that officials are safe as they carry out their duties… The ministry is aware of this and we are continuing to look at other areas where our officials could be facing problems."

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